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Final F1 test, day 4: Schumacher finds the old magic in updated Mercedes
Final F1 test, day 4: Schumacher finds the old magic in updated Mercedes
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Mar 2011   |  6:14 pm GMT  |  139 comments

The penultimate day of F1 testing before the start of the new season, saw a number of teams trying to give both drivers a run in their cars, with heavy rain forecast for tomorrow.

Schumacher gets on it (Photo: Mercedes)

Michael Schumacher at the wheel of the updated Mercedes set the fastest time of the test so far with 1m21.268s.

The team has been bringing the new update parts to the car in stages this week with exhausts and various aerodynamic parts, including a new front wing, being added until today it ran in final spec for the first time. The results looked pretty good, not only in terms of headline speed but also on longer runs,

“We have been developing the car step-by-step this week with new parts arriving each day, ” said Schumacher. “So our focus today has been on understanding how to get the best from the car now that it is pretty much in its final configuration for the first time. The car has behaved as we expected and it’s been a very productive day.”

Red Bull finished their winter test programme without putting their cards on the table in terms of outright speed, not bothering to do a full qualifying simulation. The same is true of Ferrari. We will have to wait until Saturday in Melbourne

McLaren's measuring device (Photo: McLaren)

McLaren had another frustrating day for Jenson Button, the 2009 champion had to sit out while an engine was changed and managed just 57 laps on the day. The team once again was using its load sensor device on the front wing, to evaluate front wing flex. Unlike many of the drivers, he did not do a low fuel run today.

Ferrari did another 140 laps today with Fernando Alonso, the quickest being 1m21.614.

Hispania unveiled its new car in the Barcelona pit lane, but a problem with supply of parts prevented it from going out. The team hoped to shake it down tomorrow on the final day of running, but announced tonight that it will not be able to as parts are held up in customs.

Team principal Colin Kolles pointed to the experience of his drivers Tonio Liuzzi and Narain Kartikeyan as well as the technical partnership with Williams for gearbox, hydraulics and rear end as reasons to believe that the team will be a good step ahead of last season. He also promised a development programme on the car, which they didn’t have last year.

Apart from time to sort the basics of the car like cooling, electronics and so on, the team have not had the track time to learn about the Pirelli tyres, every time the other teams have gone out they have managed to get the tyres to last a little longer; Rubens Barrichello did two runs of 14 laps and 12 laps with only a second in drop off, although they were laps in the low 1m30s. The car later required an engine change meaning that once again, Pastor Maldonado’s mileage was restricted.

Mike Gascoyne tweeted that the Lotus almost got 20 laps out of a set of hard tyres today, a little more than before.

Photo: Team Lotus

Lotus did 138 laps today, with Heikki Kovalainen, trialling a new front wing, the main update on the car this week. Today’s running brings them to a total of 4083 overall this winter. It’s not been without its problems for Lotus, but the testing looks to be ending reasonably well, “To have finished with a double-race distance is a great effort from the team who have worked extremely hard, ” said Gascoyne. “It is clear that compared to this time last year we have made a huge step forward so this a great way to finish and now we can look forward to the action in Melbourne.”

Lotus announced this evening that the Air Asia GP2 drivers Luiz Razia and Davide Valsecchi will also be reserve drivers for the team and will have the chance to run in Friday practice at Grands Prix.

So that’s it for testing for most of the teams, including Red Bull, leaving just Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari, Williams and Hispania to run in the rain tomorrow.


1. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:21.268 67 laps
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:21.614 140 laps
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:21.788 22 laps
4. Nick Heidfeld Lotus Renault 1:22.073 67 laps
5. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:22.233 89 laps
6. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:22.315 98 laps
7. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:22.675 72 laps
8. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:22.933 63 laps
9. Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus 1:23.437 138 laps
10. Paul Di Resta Force India 1:23.653 42 laps
11. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:23.921 26 laps
12. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:24.108 11 laps
13. Jenson Button McLaren 1:25.837 57 laps
14. Jerome D’Ambrosio Marussia Virgin 1:27.375 46 laps

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I for one am glad to see Michael make some kind of progress and I hope this is the beginning of many things to come.Think of how entertaining the sport would be if all of a sudden Michael Schumacher was able to fight for wins, it would be very interesting to see how he fares against the younger guys.What will also be wonderful to watch is the Mercedes functioning well as Team capable of taking wins and maybe at a later stage a championship winning team.



With all due respect… James Allen is a fair F1 Journalist… if he has criticized Shuey its for he deserved so.. I won’t be wasting my time commenting here if I felt James was unfair… of course the british drivers do get their share of ‘unnecessary’ praises.. but its more a brit thing there and a general phenomena… nonetheless, James is always fair and just in his comments and observation… So, shut up and observe.. you might learn a thing or two about the sport you all love.

A true Ferrari, Shuey, Alonso and Kimi Fan


Murray Melbourne

Great to see the ‘old bloke’ – no, don’t mean Rubens – cracking a good time.

However, I’m concerned about the re-introduction of the 107% rule….I know it’s testing but D’Ambrosio seems to be struggling to get the Virgin inside the cut-off and Hispania are yet to do a lap in the new car.

Do we all think there won’t be applications for ‘special circumstances’???

What about ‘the show’?


I have never been a schumi fan, especially after his arrogant years at Ferrari. I think some of that might have come from the arrogance within the Ferrari team.

For whatever reason he seems to be more relaxed at Mercedes in spite of the issues they have had in 2010 and I am starting to warm to him.


Congratulations to David and Robert N for winning the books.


Oh dear!

I thought Saturday (yesterday)was the last day of testing but today they are still going.


Oh dear, oh dear!

I got it all completely wrong with the win the book competition. What a numbty!



Looking at Barrichellos race sim does it not look like he may refuelled at the pitstops because his stints don’t get significantly any faster. Could he have been just practising the first stint of a GP. It’s strange that his last stint isn’t much quicker than his first.


Very concerned about mclaren.

But it would be a good story for f1 if schumi had a good car. I’d like to see him mixing it for 1 more season.

I’m predicting quicker than expected pace from sauber and str.


What about the best sector times? James, do you have it? Can you post it?


Well, well, well…

Looks like Schumi’s back? The car is probably not as fast as the RB and perhaps the Ferrari right now, but the new package has clearly improved a lot… It looks beeing only a very few tenth from the two leaders and pretty consistent over a run.


james just wondering if redbull ran out of softs considering vettel’s laptime?

mercedes have come good with their new updates but Ross Brawn says they can go better in quali would that put them up closer to rb and ferrari or still a few tenths off front row running pace?


Would love to get a post test analysis of the long run capabilities of the various cars.

Thanks for a fab site!


Anyone else catch the wonderful irony of a Spanish team not being able to run because their parts were caught up in Spanish Customs?


It sounded like a smokescreen to me. I can’t believe the car was ready, or that something like dampers would be delivered from a manufacturer on tge day of the test.


Of course, but the parts must surely have been coming from outside EU


Its such a Euro-centric sport I couldn’t imagine where else they would be coming from, but you’re probably right.

Still, you would think that an appeal to national pride would have been able to get them out for such a high visibility cause.


Sergio Perez tops the sheet day 3, and Schumacher on day 4. Interesting contrast there, eh? What does it all mean? Probably not as much as we’d like it to, other than it’s good to see Sauber showing some pace, and it’s good to see Michal still has the fire.


James, one thing that I have never seen clarified elsewhere — I have read that Ferrari’s test driver did laps at Ferrari’s own track.

How can that be?

And why wouldn’t McLaren make other laps at their own (or another track) track?


Straight line aero testing. All teams are allowed to do it. But when Ferrari dot it it’s a BIG story and everyone suspects something’s up!


I think people get the impression because it’s at their own track they might be doing a little more than just straight line testing.


So is the damper excuse from HRT legitimate? Seems rediculous to have dampers stuck in customs for a pro racing teams.


Spain is different…


RE : k miles

I agree with k miles comments..

I think james has a biased opinion regarding mclaren , in particular lewis and button aswell as alonso … Cringe !! Get a grip allen ! And constant unfair negativity towards schumacher .. I would say 90 % negative 10 % positive

Glad to see we were put out of our misery when coverage switched to the bbc .


That’s quite an offensive post. This website is – along with Autosport and possibly F1 Fanatic – among the finest sites dedicated to motorsport. Having Mr. Allen engage in the comments in the way he does is rare and quite a privilege. Nothwithstanding my own belief in Mr. Allen’s neutrality when reporting, this is a blog, not a newspaper. Blogs exist to allow individuals to express their opinions, outside the usual editorial controls of a more formal publication. What makes this blog quite special, in the time I’ve been reading and contributing it, is the level of respect shown by contributors to both the author and each other. Your comment is out of place. Perhaps Bebo might be a more natural bedfellow for your kind of self expression?


Stop trying to troll, go make your own site and see who comes to chat.


i really think James is doing a very good job, it is really nonsense to call him biased.


That is a ludicrous comment. James is always very fair toward Schumacher. I’m a massive Schumacher fan and believe me i have opinions on when people are being biased against him.

If anything I think a fondness for Michael comes through in James’s writing but i dont think it clouds his opinion either way.


Is that you again mr saward?


You clearly know nothing at all about me


James , just curious as to why your not commentating or presenting for the bbc? … Were you approached by the bbc?? .. Just seem surprised considering your “unbiased” and fair views seem like the ideal candidate, clearly I don’t know you at all!! 🙂


It says even more about you that James is willing to allow your trollish posts be published. Clearly you are in a very small minority with your views on him. I’ll be honest James was not my favorite commentator and he did annoy me on many occasions (sorry James). However he was always knowledgeable and clearly loved the sport. I cant say the same about some other F1 commentators. I do think he is a fantastic F1 journalist and this is by far my favorite F1 news site.

Thanks for all your insights James.


Thanks. That’s enough of that now


And nothing about the web site. Jason, click “reply” to reply (it’s not hard to undertand) some comment.


My impression is that James is a fan of M Schumacher – but not a slavish one. Personally I hope he gets beaten week in week out by Nico – but then I am not a journalist and am free to have

heavily biased views.

Val from Montreal

james , if schumi wins an 8th title , will you add another chapter for ” edge of greatness ” ?

oh and, will you remove that rubbish you wrote about schumacher saying alonso was better than him ?

cheers !


Why cannot be Fernando better tyhan Schumy? From 2001 to 2005 their cars were so different, so there’s no possible comparison. But in 2006… Ok the Renault was ilegal for half a season, true, but we are not comparing the teams, we are comparing the drivers, and their two cars were very similar along the year. And at the end Fernando took a fair victory, he was the best that year. Engine failure at suzuka is not an excuse, Fernando would have taken WDC too (their points difference at the end was 14, ¡like 30-35 this year!), and no one seems to remember Fernando’s tyre issues at Hungary… I’m a big Schumy admirer, he is pure F1 history, but he had lined up stars for win 5 WC in a row with the best car and no strong rivals.


Schumacher only have the best car in 2002 and 2004 and that’s cause of his team building skill, hardwork, determination etc plus the dream team to work on that. Hakkinen, Raikkonen, Montoya, Alonso are strong drivers.


Sorry for double post 😉


Schumacher have the best car only in 2002 and 2004 and that’s cause his team building skill, hardwork and determination etc plus the dream team to work on that. Hakkinen, Raikkonen, Montoya, Alonso are strong drivers.


Correction, I mean 5 WDC.


@TheLegend If you put it that way, actually Michael beat Mika in 2000 and 2001 and then he retired. In 1999 in my opinion Michael could win but broken leg prevented him for it. And in 2005, Ferrari got issued with the bridgestone tyres that leaving Michelin users to battle for victories. In 2006 the Ferrari 248 F1 suffered significant technical problems and not as fast as Renault R26 at the first half of the season, by the end of the season Ferrari managed to catch up but engine failure at Japanese GP as well as car failure and Tyre puncture at Brazilian GP cause MS the championship. Back to you comment about Schumacher win nothing between 1995 and 2000, actually in 2000 he wins it and 1995 he wins the championship with Benetton, between 1996-1998 Ferrari have tough years but thanks to Michael and the dream team that brought Ferrari up to 5 WCC which they never won it since 1979.


“Mika beat him and then retired, Fernando beat him and then Michael retired”—->??.

I’m pointing out to your comment about no strong rivals during Michael 5 WDC years, Sebastian and Lewis haven’t race in F1 at that time and Robert replaced Jacques just at the end of the season.


Mika beat him and then retired, Fernando beat him and then Michael retired, Raikkonen had a similar car and ended 2 points behind, and Montoya is not as strong as the other three… Seb, Lewis or Robert are better than Juan Pablo.

Val from Montreal

Well if he was so damn good like yourself and mr James Allen think he is , what has the little spanirad won since 2006 ? oh thats right – nothing !

Funny that after returning to Renault , he could’nt make title competetors ?

His second WDC was handed to him on a golden plate when Schumacher’s engine blew up at Suzuka …. thats the thruth and you know it … James Allen is an Alonso fanboy , always has ….


Yes that true! i agree 100%! if he was so good as his hardcore fans make out, he would have stayed at Renault and brought them back at the top! Instead he was involved in the CHEAT scandal with Mclaren, threathening Ron Dennis for number one status(why would he have done that if he was so good?!)! and if that wasnt enough he tried to sabotage hamiltons car! the race fixing in Singapore, and then the race fix in Germany! oh yeah, and he took the frustration of his own inability (despite having a superior car) out on poor Petrov after Abu Dhabi! dream on alonso (cheat) fans! sounds like he is a REAL world CHUMP more like!


Michael won nothing between 1995 and 2000. I could say that Schumy had some possibility thanks to the problem Fernando had in Hungary, that cost him a victory also. Or what about the ridiculous sanction at Monza (where his engine blew up also). And I say, Schumy is a GREAT driver, the best between 1994 and 2004. But a lucky one also.


2010 Q3 Times from Barcelona

1. Webber 1.19.995

2. Vettel 1.20.101

3. Ham 1.20.829

4. ALo 1.20.937

5. But 1.20.991

6. SCH 1.21.294

7. Kub 1.21.353

8. Ros 1.21.408

9. Mas 1.21.585

10.Kob 1.21.984

Do you honestly think some of the cars are as fast as last year, but somehow the RB is only holding back a few tenths?


It’s interesting to see that the cars aren’t that much slower compared to last year despite Pirelli’s first year as well as banning DDD. I guess the KERS and rear wing make up for it but we don’t know to what extend they are being used at this point.

Also I can’t imagine Ferrari and Red Bull doing much better than simply dipping into the 1.20s considering Hamilton is saying McLaren would have trouble hitting 1.21s


KK in 2010 during Q3 clocked a 1.21.9 (10th) and this year the Sauber clocked a 1.21.7 in supposed Q-trim.

The RB was 2 seconds faster in the same Q session so I believe RB are holding back



Hispania turned up, and they even have a car. Wow ! They even promise some in-season development. Double-wow !! This will start to be thought about I suppose when they’ve shaken the thing down over the first three GP’s.

Question : What is this team doing in F1 ?


No place for them in F1


Frankie going to Holywood and the

Neon lights.

That what is all about my friend, yup.


Thats like asking why North Korea showed up to the World Cup. I would pay to be a part of that/any team.



Considering the Red Bull time was set 2 days ago, what would the comparable time be today? I keep reading about how the track doesn’t rubber in very well with the new tires, so how does Schumi’s time compare to previous top times? Is it a massive step for Mercedes or the normal combination of improved car plus a much improved track?


I’ve got a sociological question for the Ferrari fans and I’d be happy if anybody could answer it :).

I’ve always considered myself a Ferrari fan, but not a die hard one. What makes me wonder is, what do the real tifosi think about Schumacher today. Do they love him because of the past or do they treat him as a traitor?

I, personally, have a soft spot for and huge amount of respect for him, but I don’t know if I’m representative here. Any idea how it is with the Tifosi?


Thanks for all your replies (I don’t answer everybody seperately, but I hope you’ll read it anyway;-) ). It seems that every person treats Schuey in a different way (not really surprising), but apart from some exeptions he’s still got Ferrari’s fans respect. That’s good. I hope he’ll fight for some wins this season :).


of course Ferrari comes first, thats the team we love, but if there is a driver who i will always respect, he is Schumacher. He did a lot for this team and i dont think anyone can repeat or come close what he achieved with Ferrari.

so if it is not one of the Ferrari drivers who are fighting for race win than i always support Schumacher over others.


I have seen many fans during the 2010 Hungarian wearing Ferrari T-Shirts and latest Schumi/Mercedes cap in the same time. Other sign that lot of people likes him is the ‘horn loudness’ factor. When the big screens are starts to show the different drivers at the beginning of the sessions MS always got big cheer from the fans. I can say that the most of the fans are in red at least in Hungary.


Thanks a lot guys :).


I have an enormous amount of respect for Schumacher. His passion and the glory he brought for Ferrari…simply amazing.


I’m Italian and a hard core Ferrari fan and I must say I’m quite pleased to see Schumi mixing it up again. I think some still love him for what he did and some think he is a traitor however, as a tifoso I believe that no driver is bigger than the team. Lets not forget that Schumi would not have been able to do it without Ferrari and vica versa so I don’t see how he can be labbeled a traitor since IMO it was effictively Ferrari that retired him from racing to bring Kimi in. Besides, I’m sure that most of the tifosi that see him as a traitor actually still respect on love him deep down inside 🙂


A good question Lilla. I suspect it we be that he is a low-grade traitor, but not as bad as if he went to McLaren. There is Mercedes history in his career, and he hasn’t started beating the Ferraris yet. Since Alonso is comparable, Schumi won’t be missed that much.


@Lilly Ma But of course the Tifosi consider the Kaizer a traitor for those are one unreasonable bunch more so because they think Schumi has the ability to deny the red cars points like he did in Monaco 2010

Look the Tifosi have never warmed to Schumi or his driving style & that’s why they consider Gilles as their greatest F1 driver


I’m still a big Schumacher fan.


I think the Tifosi would always have a soft spot for him regardless of who he drives for. He brought them so much success within a small period of time, which they hadn’t experienced in quite a long time. For that they’ll be greatfull!


Last year Montezemolo was asked about if he consider a treason Schumy’s decision to drive for Merc, and he answered “maybe a little”. And I was at Montmeló last season and the italian guy in front of me was doing “bad signs” to Schumy every time he passed in front of us.


Good signs that maybe another team will be competitive this season. I would love to see Schumacher on the podium again.


radio le mans ran there f1 preview show last night and nick damon who not too long ago worked for fom on there ppv tv coverage made the comment that guys he knows within mclaren have said the problems all stem from there innovative exhust design.

the whole car is apparently designed around this exhust system which hasn’t been working as they thought it would and because the car was designed around this exhust its not going to be an easy fix.

you can listen to the exact comments in the podcast on there website-

its in the podcast section on the right side.

the bit about mclaren is about half hour in.


no titles for them this year then…


Sounds like a glory run. What was their general pace?


from what I saw of times, comparable to Ferrari in the short (5 lap) stints. I don’t know if Merc did any long stints yesterday


According to AMuS Michael Schumacher’s fastest time 1:21.268 was set with the old front wing and on soft tyres not supersofts and with relative fuel not empty tank.


That Virgin looks a bit slow.


hahahaha classic


James! Could you give us some details about how f1 engineers rate the new Mercedes compared to Red Bull and Ferrari?


Go schumi!!!

Seriously, glad to see a 40+ year old keeping it up there.


Non-seriously….I think it’s possibly drug related, I hear a lot of old men turn to that when they want to ‘keep it up there’. 😉

Seriously..I think it’s fantastic to see Michael back at the top of the time sheets, even if it is only testing. I’m not sure anyone really expected that kind of pace from Mercedes, I’m sure a few teams are looking at that and worrying.


If the Mercedes is relatively faster and MS beats NR all year I think its because the car is setup by someone who knows how to win championships.


Good point!



My favorite driver of my high school-college era, linking with the brand that I drive (at least my last 4 cars). Go Schu-Merc!!!!



You may well already have something in the pipeline, James, but it would be good to get your general overview/analysis of where the teams all are after testing. I certainly won’t mind if it’s a mixture of data and your instincts.

I realise it seems obvious that Ferrari and Red Bull are looking fastest but Mercedes supposed gap-closing upgrades today are interesting, as are Brawn’s comments about people not showing their true pace. To whom d’you think he was referring? In your opinion, is it imaginable that Red Bull could be hiding a lot of pace, for example.

Mclaren is also an interesting case. They seem to be no closer to the front two than they were at the end of last season. Why d’you think this is? Are they simply not as strong as they were in the past or d’you think they have problems with their design process?

I know there is a lot of time for development etc. and that we won’t really know till Australia how the cars are relative to each other but it would be great to read your thoughts.


The other day you asked about lap times of McLaren and Mercedes. Everybody put Mclaren with best times, but don’t you think this will not be the case? It seems Mercedes goes faster and more reliable! I think Mclaren will have a low start until the European season begins, they then can improve. Greetings from Uruguay.


Hopefully the Mercedes will be on the pace this year to give Micheal a chance to shine again.


James had alonso done a 21.2 you would have been jumping up and down saying how the redbull did not even manage do that time! But because it schuey, you are SO negative towards him! i think your’e still in a hissy fit over MR CHEAT not winning the WDC! take that ferrari fans!


Eh? K Miles, you sure have a strange way of reading into things! Thats not what has been written at all!


Wow…a lot in so few of words…..go figure.


Sir, such hard-hitting truths are hard on the heart of us hair Alonso fans. Would you please go easy in the future?


Seriously, What are you on?? 🙂

The title says:

“Schumacher finds the old magic…” How is that negative to Schumi?

On a side-note, James even wrote an EXCELLENT biography on Schumacher some years ago, if you’re a Schumacher fan, as I am, I highly recommend you read it. It provides a fair and balanced account of Michael’s career.

Actually I’ve got a question for you James, how long did it take you to write that book?

There must have been months of interviews involved…


@ K Miles, I think you are being unfair to James, As far as I remember I got to become a fan of MSC only after I read Mr. Allen’s Biography on MSC. So I don’t think he is biased at all. If you read the complete story you will certainly understand what James means. I too am very happy to find MSC on top but let’s not come out and say that James was being biased.


What? Read the headline!


Someone forgot to wear glasses ;). Nice headline there James.


Did Schumi really have the magic James? Did you see him attacking the track just over the limit as he used to, too fast, bringing it back from too far over the edge? Or was it just a good time?

The problem is as always that we don’t know the fuel load, the tyre state or the intent of the laps, was KERS used or the rear flap? So it is virtually impossible to compare times of one driver with another.


I know this doesn’t mean Mercedes have the best car, and I’m sure Red Bull could’ve beaten the time if they wanted to, but I can’t describe how nice it was to see Michael at the top of the time sheets – and with the best time of the test so far.

As a side note – Michael was told to finish his day an hour and a half early in order to give Rosberg some dry running (due to the risk of rain tomorrow). This is all perfectly fine and it makes perfect sense. However, imagine if Rosberg had been asked to end his test session early in order to give Michael some guaranteed dry running? People would’ve been coming out with all kinds of rubbish! “Michael in preferential treatmeant shocker!”, “Michael kicks Nico out of car!”, “Michael is the clear number one!” etc… possibly even Rosberg himself would’ve had something to say.

Certainly if Rubens were still Michaels team mate we’d all be hearing about it, in fact Rubens would’ve already written a book and had it published..

‘The Day My Car Was Stolen… by Michael Schumacher!!!’

“It was a sunny afternoon in Barcelona, and all would be silent if it weren’t for my whining..

About Kers,

About adjustable rear wings,

About unsafe run-off areas,

About overly wet rain,

About overly aggressive drivers,

About late afternoon start times…

But most of all, about Michael.

Dearest Michael where would you be,

If you hadn’t have had your love-in with me?

If I hadn’t moved over in the Austrian race?

I’d be an F1 World Champion with a smile on my face.”

Let’s hope for a great season! 🙂


LOL Nice one…Perhaps Rubens next project is going to make his own reality show “Art Of Whining” ;D


Actually I understand that MS gets the car again tomorrow because he also wants to try the new car in the wet conditions and optimize it for that.

So actually, this appears to be also playing to the advantage of “Number One”.


can’t agree more great comment. The more experience he has the more he complains. Why does he keep running if he feels it’s unsafe. Leave and let the hungry youngsters take the risks.

His main goal in life is to retire after Schumacher.


So true!!

Anne-Marie Kirwan

I cannot tell you how much that comment made me laugh. Glad to see Schumi topping the time sheets. I know it’s difficult to read too much into it, but it would be great to have him in the mix this season.


Thanks for the informative update James.

One must really wonder what is “fundamentally” wrong at Mclaren (I say this as a fan and with great disappointment)

The past decade can be divided in the:

1) “final newey years” with an exploding mercedes engine. the car had the speed, but the mercedes engine cost them two WDCs with Kimi (clearly capable of running at the front)

2) “the post-newey years” where technical development leadership was lacking. Mercedes improved the engine but the drivers Kimi/Montoya were not interested in developing the car

3) “the Alonso 0.6 factor”.. people may ridicule him for it but he did bring the crucial driver’s development perspective and leadership.. OK one must admit that Ferrari’s stolen secrets helped as well (but it was Alonso who discriminated between good and bad setups.. from 06 to 07 they had a huge performance gains)

4) “the post Alonso period” with Mclaren lacking technical drivers leading the team. Yes Lewis won the WDC but Ferrari had a bad year, and Red Bull was not up to speed yet.

In conclusion it seems to me that the team has never properly recovered from Newey’s exit. Nor has it tried to establish a proper “talented engineer + brilliant feedback providing driver” combo.

Instead McLaren has been trying to fill that gap left by a Newey and by an Alonso (or Hakkinen/DC) by all this exotic simulation technology and strange car pre-season development/delivery/testing methods and approaches that … well so far have only delivered very sub-optimal cars (all accompanied by lots of pomp)


I dont feel that loosing Newey really left them weak. The last time Mclaren had a dominant car was 1999. In 2005 (last Newey car I think ?) it was also the class of the field but was badly let down by reliability.

In 2000 & 2001 they were fairly on par with Ferrari pace wise. 2002 they were soundly beaten, the 2003 car was a development of the 2002 one from what I remember and lacked pace, although Raikkonen came pretty close to the WDC. 2004 the car originally intended for 03 was wheeled out, it was an attempt at a radical design but the reality was a very mediocre car. 2005 as I said the car was amazing and with a more reliable Merc engine would have easily won the championship. 2006 was a step back again. 2007 / 08 was fairly even with Ferrari (I suppose they were the same car ;).

In short I dont think they have missed Newey, I dont think Newey got the freedom to do what he wants at Mclaren that he does at Red Bull and that is why he is doing so brilliantly there.


To me it wasn’t the engine as much as delicate design with significant stress on the engine as loaded structural component that caused Newey designs to fail at McLaren. You have to admid some of that in the 2010 Redbull. Than Vettel blow up from mid season though was one of the most beautiful engine failures I have ever seen. He likes to push it and makes them too delicate. I guess we will see how they do this year.


The past decade can be divided between Ferrari and Renault engines also, with the exception of Brawns gimmick/brilliant engineering, oh er and a guy named Lewis Hamilton.

WRT McLaren I don’t think you win constructors championships because one other team had a bad year and because the Red Bull phenomenon hadn’t happened yet! McLaren have been in the top 3 bar 1 year for the last 10 years and dominated 1985-1991.

Not to undermine Adrian’s brilliance he won with Williams/Renault because that engine was far superior to anything else on the grid.

If McLaren are lacking in pace it is because they have over engineered, but that risk is something that is needed to win at this level.

If they are not in the top 3 again this year it just shows how strong the field is now and as a fan myself think this is brilliant.


I really liked your view on this. I am not a Mclaren fan but I do admire them. And yes, they are basically prefer computers over talented humans.


There I was, hoping that McLaren would make the same kind of improvement, that Mercedes seemed to have done.

Fat chance! It looks like we may be trading places with Virgin and HRT, come Melbourne.


The question for McLaren is how many laps can they do before retiring not how fast


Ever notice how once they got their SPYGATE info in ’07 it put them in the right track for ’08 championship?

It’s only a matter of time before they deploy their secret MP4 spy network and get Red Bull and Mercedes secrets.

OK, I’m just having some jolly old fun with some conspiracy theories since we have to wait 2 more looooong weeks for some real action.

I would love to see McLaren out of it thought to be honest. I’d like to see Vettel vs. Schumi vs. Alonso. OH BABY that would be killer. The BULL vs. The Master vs. The Metador. Carbon fiber will fly! If we only had Imola this year – remember those 05/06 races?


I dunno about that, I don’t enjoy watching Alonso win. He will be remembered by me as being a [mod] whiner. I hope but doubt Massa does better this year.


Then you won’t probably enjoy this year…


and you don’t want to see Hamilton vs Vettel vs Schumi vs Alonso???

A not so dominanr RB and Schumi at the front were the only things missing last yr.


Somehow I like my picks.

4 way battles are over rated.

Vettel the rookie champion.
Alonso the two time middle man with two runner ups driving Schumi’s hardware. Going to work in an area with various things named after Schumi.
And of course the old dog – been there, done that Schumi. With one last dance in him.


Schumi should get rid of Rosberg before considering challenging the others


Go Schumi!


Schumi tell us how you’re 1 second back then… Boom Surprise Sebee!

Can you imagine if Schumi is in it this year? I may have to unretire traveling to GPs. Turned in my travel lucky Ferrari hat in Brazil ’06.



did you get any further insight into the availability of the different Pirelli compounds for this test?

Some media reports out there claim Alonso did his best lap on super softs, much like Perez yesterday, while the MGP drivers were running softs on their respective fastest laps. Can you confirm that from your sources?

Michael Prestia

It feels like it is taking forever for this season to start…


We would have had Quali and the race starting in less the 24 hours if Bahrain was still on…


What did you make of Alonso’s race simulation? To me it looked extraordinarily strong even in comparison to Massa?


I’ve heard that his average lap time was 6 tenths faster than Felipe’s one.


don’t agree, he stopped every 10 laps which means Ferrari needs at least 4 pit stops : too much in my view.


Mr Allen, I thank you for the replay to

my yester day coment.

Please my inclanation simply points out

Ferrari have had the most sucsess when it

had the input from personel outside Italy.

The Ross Brown era,and lately the appointments

of two top key personel in F1 paddock, ex

McLaren and Red Bull, it suprises me you do

not give very much credence to.

Your coments please if you will.


The architect of Ferrari success is rather french : Jean TODT


For recruiting a multi national team within Ferrari?

And keeping close to FIA also.


James hello!Great analysis.

I wanted to know about williams.Rubens seemed quite pessimistic today.Any info is appreciated.

Keep up the good work James


James, reading the report on they mention barrichello’s race distance form being particularly notable, do you agree and how does this compare to the front runners?


I saw that. If you look at the drop off it’s very slight, but the pace isn’t stellar, 1m31s


Think the teams may be targeting lap times. It might be quicker in the long run to conserve the tires at the beginning of the stint(?)


or they’re just sandbagging…


Hi James,
Thanks for the prompt updates as always. At least, Mercedes seem to be going right direction. But it would be too optimistic to think they can challenge redbull or Ferrari. What do you make of Michael performance
Do you think we can expect the magic or is it going to be like last year?
I would like to know your honest opinion.

Thanks and regards,


1 problem in last years pre-season testing was that Schuey seem to have the legs on Nico but once the season started things were reversed! And as the season went on it looked like it was getting worse and worse for Michael, clearly that wasn’t the Schumacher of the old but towards the end of the season he did seem to get the measure of Nico and let’s see if he can keep that momentum going, it’s looking positive but I reserve judgment on the car or the master himself.


We need to analyse what happened today. It’s clearly a tick in the box for the new package and I think MS will be more competitive than last year. But I need to get some more insight into the data


Thanks James, you are the best



Do you think Schumi will be up there this year then? Or do you think they are still quite far behind the Red Bulls?



How have the times been after the inital drop off in performance? Are the teams seeing consitency in the tire performance, and are they reducing the loss of lap time once the degredation sets in? Pirelli has been steadfast in saying that the tire performance will be different once the season starts, primarily because of the warmer temperatures. Have we seen any of that this week in Barcelona as well?

Thanks for an excellent thread.


Not so much difference with the warmer temps, from what I’m hearing. The tyres don’t come back after the drop off, it accelerates in fact as it goes on


Thanks for the round-up James 🙂

What do you think of Button’s comments, he says the car’s bad reliability is hiding their true pace, is there any basis for this? And why is the car so unreliable, is it because of this vaunted exhaust system?

Thanks 🙂


I don’t think it’s necessarily a slow car, but it’s complex and there are also some issues with tyre wear, that is clear


going by the times, most people are feeling more comfortable to push a little harder now and set quicker laps… but also, i assume the track is rubbering in well now.

With the new pirelli’s and the wear rate, does anyone know if it helps rubber the track in quicker/more leading to better times, or is there a limit to how ‘rubbered’ in a track can be, or does it start to hurt performance if too excessive?

(i’m not talking about marbles etc – just on the racing line)

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